How Busy Are We Really?

I’m too busy!  This is often my excuse for getting away with things, for missing the gym and not having meals prepared at home.  But how busy are we really?  What makes us busy and why do we busy ourselves so much we don’t have time for the basics?

Some might complain first about money.  I am the first to back this excuse.  I work overtime to make more money because of the cost of living, blah blah blah.  But, who’s choice was it to upgrade my computer, to borrow for our wedding rather than waiting, and for that personal loan that got me out of a situation quicker than I would have liked to endure?  It’s all me, I work for the conveniences I have chosen to take.  In sense I am paying for them.  And, in light of trying to get out of it, I am studying to earn more money, I am working over time and therefore leaving no time for me.

Where are our priorities?  What are our priorities?  Gone are the days of family BBQ’s at the park as an easy birthday option, or going to the beach.  Now kids have technology, parents are busycramming in extra time working from home, talking to friends and family on phones, tablets and over computers rather than making the time to see them face to face.  Families these days are buying the convenience of a take away dinner, to prevent having to spend the time in the kitchen, they then eat it while they watch tv or check facebook.  Whatever happened to sacred family time?  I am no stranger to these issues, I look at my phone at dinner, mostly because I don’t like to put people out and I like them not to have to sit around and wait for me.  I try to meal plan, but sometimes I tell my husband to have takeaway because I got an extra shift and there’s nothing left in the freezer for him to defrost and heat.  I use uni as an excuse not to get to the gym, while I waste uni time writing here, or checking out facebook or googling random things.  We are a product of our own decisions.

In light of this and my endeavour for my happiness resolution I am thinking of trying to make Mindfulness-and-Living-a-Busy-Lifea few changes around this.  I am getting incredibly stressed about things that are probably unnecessary, from cramming too much into my day.  It’s time to make some choices of our own, for ourselves.

  1. Change the statement “if I have time” to “I will make time” – if there is something you really want to do you have to make time to do it.
  2. Set a day of the week for yourself and family time, of even split that day for both.  For me sometimes that means getting a gym session in the morning, catching up with friends and then getting to pole in the evening
  3. Make a rule about technology at certain times of the day – this will eliminate phones and tablets at the dining table (and this must be a rule for everyone in the house to follow), no technology after dinner.  This is something we have tried to establish, to get me out of studying for all the hours I am at home.  However when I’m stressed it doesn’t work so well, but for the most part I try not to get to that point.  And we do permit phones after dinner, just no work, study or games if we can help it, and there are benefits to sleep for not using the devices late at night.
  4. Make a schedule you can stick to – get out a calendar, schedule activities you would love to get to and make it happen

I find that to make a real difference in ourselves what we really need is to make small changes, that are manageable.  Like with any real challenge, same as losing weight or gaining strength, you are never going to get it overnight, it’s something you have chip away at and notice the progress along the way.  But to make more time for ourselves we really need to be focused and determined, keep the diary, and plan ahead if need be.  Today I am up early despite loving to sleep in my husband got me up an extra 2hrs earlier than I would have been, so I could catch up on some washing before work, and get some work done so my odd work hours today wouldn’t get in the way of progress with my study.

You are only as busy as you allow yourself to be!

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If You Don’t LOVE It Or USE It – Lose It

What is the value of work?  It’s a commonly recognised issue that people spend too much time on work, they work at work, then they bring it home.  Where is the balance, and where are our priorities?

As I’ve mentioned before I follow a blog called becoming minimalist, which really inspires me to let go of things, as hard as that is.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to go over the top, I’m not about to give up everything I own, or even more than 20%, but I do think we could all live with less baggage.  I like to live in a cosy tidy house, with minimal clutter, where everything has a purpose, and if you don’t love it or use it, get rid of it!  I recently read an article about presenting your house as you would if you were trying to sell it, permanently.  30% less clutter, so it doesn’t look like it’s cluttered, tidy with nothing that doesn’t have a place, and anything that doesn’t either needs to find a home to be re-homed (donated or sold).  This is something I struggle with especially in the kitchen department, my husband also struggles with this as we live in a small house, but we don’t see this as a permanent

I recently had somethings put into perspective.  I recently had a Tupperware party where I found myself apologising for the size of the kitchen in our house, the one part of our house lay on grassthat I thought was adequate until a friend said to me “I wouldn’t call your kitchen big”.  Now I don’t care for having something better than anyone else, but I have noticed other people’s observations sometimes change my view.  So during the Tupperware party while I was apologising for having no space the demonstrator (who used to be my manager when I was selling Tupperware), I was shocked when she mentioned she had a smaller kitchen, and lived in a small 2 bedroom house with 2 kids.  We live in a small 2 bedroom house also, and I always complain about it like we live in a cardboard box and line up at a soup kitchen for dinner.  I complain about not making enough money, I work every opportunity I get, I study to increase my wage, I don’t take any time for me and when I get some I don’t know what to do with it.

Tonight when I got home from work I was actually thinking about how much I appreciated coming home.  I believe home is a place that represents who you are, that has your creature comforts, it’s clean and tidy and a place you really want to be, that represents who you are.  Our house might be small, but it really is a place we want to be and that’s what really matters, tonight I was thinking about it and wondering why I don’t take more opportunity to enjoy it.  It got me thinking about work, about how much time I waste trying to make more money to do what?  When you don’t have the quality time, how do you enjoy the money you work so hard to save?  I have recently been thinking about where I’m at being 32 years old, and although I have come a long way (it’s a long story) what do I have to show for it?  We live in a small house, no kids, we rent, and we have a house full of stuff we buy to try and make life easier or more enjoyable.  But, what do we have really?  What money should be is experience and memories.

So what is the value of work?  What is the value of life?  We have to do what makes us happy, we have to find what interests us, take time for ourselves, for our families and friends.  Since uni has gone back this year I have lost my routine, my spare time, and sometimes my sanity.  I have a terrible sleep routine, I am tired during the day and I can’t runsleep at night.  I rarely read for fun like I did during the Christmas break, I am snappy at home, I have less patience at work and I stress and worry about everything.  Something has come to my attention, we all need some time to relax, for our mental health.  I think the perspectives have changed over time, once upon a time the focus was on family, but I feel now it’s moved to success, but success isn’t measured by what you earn and what you own.  Success can be measured based on what you have achieved, in any sense of the word.  Find what you love, find what you enjoy, work your day job and make your time count, don’t be held back by burdens.

I don’t know if this has really said what I was aiming for, as it’s getting late and I’m tired, but I think it’s time to start enjoying life, not working so hard we miss it!

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The Engagement Ring Metaphor

Things are truly put into perspective when you have a scare.  This week at work I lost a small diamond off my engagement ring, you can imagine the feelings the ran through me…  Disbelief, horror and reasoning!

I first realised it when I was at morning tea at work, I noticed the big space where the stone used to be was now nothing more than an empty hole.  I metaphor for my relationship?  That ring has caused nothing but grief over the last 3 weeks, out of nowhere I have developed a kind of dermatitis underneath it where moisture has obviously been getting trapped with the amount of times I have to wash my hands at work.  But, why did it take so long to start occurring, I have been wearing that ring now for over a year, and the wedding ring with it for 5 months, then a diamond falls out of it.

As soon as I noticed I was out in the corridor on my phone calling the jeweller to see what I could do about it.  Luckily they have a 7 year warranty on diamonds in their engagement rings, so I had my husband come to work and take it straight away to the jeweller who is going to have it replaced.

After all the full passed I found myself making jokes about the ring being a metaphor after him having a week of night shifts and me being on afternoon shifts we hardly saw each other and maybe there was a “hole” developing.  Just jokes of course, we are just the same as always, no holes that I could imagine.

Tonight I was reading a book “Happier at home”, it’s the sequel to the “Happiness Project” I mentioned previously (lately probably over and over again – it’s really positiveinspiring me to be better), and upon which I am basing this happiness revolution I am practicing at the moment.  As I was reading tonight, the chapter is on marriage, I was thinking about how much I could relate to what she was saying and the points she was making.  In this marriage chapter Gretchen talks about how men and women in relationships and marriage tend to get too comfortable with each other, to the point they feel comfortable to be rude like they would with a sibling, but in a way they wouldn’t even treat their close friends.  As I was reading this I was thinking about my relationship, only tonight we were having a disagreement about the dishwasher, not about who would fill or empty it but I was complaining about my husband being too vigilant with it, to the point he puts things in it that I haven’t even finished with and to the point that I can’t even make a coffee as all the spoons and mugs I would usually use are in there, things I would normally just rinse or wash by hand so I could reuse them.  We have previously commented on how comfortable we are with each other that we feel we can express ourselves as we do with our siblings, something no one has ever achieved with either of us (other than our siblings).  But, as I was reading this I was thinking the book is right, this is actually a negative aspect.  While we feel completely comfortable, we can say things that are rude and blunt to each other, and it got me to thinking that I need to be more positive…  In many aspects of my life really.

So I have made myself a few new rules, which it seems like I am doing a lot of lately, and I seem to be forgetting almost all of them too.  But the problem is really our level of mindfulness.  We don’t realise what we’ve said until it’s too late.  Our words are like toothpaste, once they are out there’s no getting them back in.  I need to think a little more before I say things out loud.  I need to think about his feelings before I express my own, remembering my mood affects his.  Do something nice for him, and praise him for something rather than criticising.  People respond to positive reinforcement rather than negativity.  I know this works on him, he is a chameleon, he mirrors my behaviour, but I guess you get what you give to some degree.  When I do more around the house I get compliments and positive reinforcement.

Although I have now painted a bad picture of what our relationship is like, these are only rare moments, we rarely disagree on important things, we discuss everything together, and we have the same goals in life.  We are both ambitious, and we hold the sunshineother in high importance, always wanting to be better for them.  I guess much about what this was for me, my happiness resolution was to make myself happier by reducing stress and negativity and just being calmer, which has in turn affected him too.

I guess I have come to the conclusion that although my ring is in a way a metaphor for what our relationship has become, whereby we have a hole for niceties to fall through, I am working at plugging it up with positivities.  And, while I have been wearing only my wedding band I have been reminded to keep it simple…  Not that my wedding band is “plain”, but it is simple, just a thin band with some small diamonds across the top.  Sums me up really.  I’m very much “what you see is what you get”.  A little bit of sparkle, but mostly I’m not complicated.  My positives will surely become “our positives”.

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“The days are long but the decades are short”

As I continue on my “happiness resolution” I was thinking about the authors’ (Gretchen Rubin) truths, “the days are long but the decades are short”.  Which I imagine could open a whole great discussion about life and the meaning of it, but it did make me think about something, about where we place our priorities.

After reading this segment in the book I had a conversation with my husband about our work, he’s studying to be a nurse, and I am a nurse.  He has aspirations to be a nurse practitioner, about as far as you can go as a nurse, while I was thinking about days are longspecialising in a specific area but I don’t know where that is.  At the same time we have goals to buy a house and travel, but that is all long term stuff (other than the house idea but we’ll see how that pans out as the year goes on).  It made me wonder, while we wait the time it takes for all of things things to transpire, what are we focused on now?

My goals this month are about “letting it go”.  Which is working well for me, I am trying not to get too stressed at work, I am a little stressed about uni, but I guess at the end of the day if I fail I won’t have really lost anything, I will have learned more that I will have lost, or that I have no achieved.  I am doing better around the house, even my husband has noticed me being a little less stressed, but are we focused on in the here and now?  What do we look forward to?  What are our goals?  Are we so focused on the big things that we’re missing the little stuff?

Instead of complaining about the weather, I think it’s time to notice the weather, enjoy something about it.  Make the most of BBQ’s in the summer, and snuggling up at home in the winter months.  Read a book in the sunshine, or inside under a blanket.  Get out the slow cooker and make some winter comfort meals.

This next week is very busy for me, I have a baby shower tomorrow, catching up with friends Sunday and Monday and I am hosting a Tupperware party on Tuesday, and a movie date with a friend on Wednesday.  Plenty of time to experience the “long days”.

Those “long days” will one day be the days we wish we had appreciated more, rather than wishing them away.  Every day we experience is a part of our journey, and one day it will come to an end.  Before then we might forget parts of that journey, so we might as well make the most of them.

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My Happiness Resolution

As I continue my journey on the happiness project (for anyone reading this post who doesn’t know I am following “the happiness project” by Gretchen Rubin), I have actually finally finished the book, which is always a sad moment.  But towards the end there was an interesting point she made about goals.  Goals are something with a final date or time to them.  Whereas a resolution is something you want to continue to maintain, like our new years resolutions we make each year, to lose weight, or save more money, aims for new habits I guess.  That’s what this experience is like, I am being more mindful and reshaping my habits.  I attribute this experience to being like my weight loss journey, you can’t make all the big changes at once, you have to break it down into smaller gradual changes.

So I’ve decided to call my new journey, “My happiness Resolution”.  For now anyways, because I am following her project and I am revolving it around things that make me happy, and focusing on positive psychology.

After only a month and a half my husband already thinks he can some subtle changes.  He said he thinks I am responding better to things, which is always a good sign.  Yesterday we had a lovely day, we went to a street carnival, out to brunch and home again.  The whole experience made me realise as part of this project or resolution that I need to make the most of some experiences.  We say we love living in the city, or relatively close to the city but we don’t often take advantage of it.  I said to him we should go in and do things more often, because although we dwell on buying a house a lot we will be giving this up when we finally get there, and we will regret not appreciating where we live right now.  Apart from that I love the house we live in at the moment as much as I complain all the time about how small it is, it is cosy and has character and we’ve made it our own (as much as you can when you’re renting).

In the book Gretchen started a minute diary where she would write even one sentence, but I have commenced a diary to track my progress and my plans and goals.  I was never a diary person, I tried to keep one as a kid on holidays, but it was something I felt I couldn’t maintain, and I felt silly just writing in it what I was thinking and what I journalling for the soulwas doing.  However, for this process it has come in really handy, I have found it is giving me a sounding board, a place to write down my concerns so I don’t have to harass my husband with it, and I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I have gotten it on paper.  I don’t know if journals are still a thing that people use, but it definitely has it’s place I have now realised, and it has really helped my month of letting go.

This process is having an effect on my home life already, it’s affecting my husband positively, due to changes in my own behaviour and I am making time for friends, and I am feeling more organised and “lighter” I guess you could say.  Like I have less stress sitting on my shoulders with a new sounding board.  I picked up some books on happiness yesterday that I am looking forward to having a look at, they talk about the science behind happiness, and I am contemplating reading the Dalai Lama book called “The Art of Happiness”.

My month of letting is turning out to be successful so far, and hoping to get back into some yoga this week so that will work well.  In the meantime the part I really need to work on is getting some balance with uni, I feel like I’m spending all my spare time on uni work, and yesterday was the first time I let that go and went out without worrying about what I could have been getting done.  We need down time too, and time to be social with our friends.

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I Found A New Level To My Own Negativity

It’s amazing what you learn by looking at someone’s analysis of themselves.  I am coming close to the end of the “happiness project” book, and it’s currently talking about having a negative outlook.  Gretchen mentions how she tends to take opposing opinions in arguments and argues other people’s point of view even if she really doesn’t have any knowledge on the topic.  I’ve come to realise that’s exactly what I do these days, and it made me wonder how this happened, and why I do it…

The first thought I had was that this could actually be a good thing.  It means whenever something is presented to me I don’t just take it at face value, I actually think about it and consider other perspectives, I guess kind of like when we change the name of something to something that is just a different inflection of the sound of the word.  Kind of like how we call a Toyota Kluger a “klugger”.  While it is a good thing to think about things somewhat is this really a constructive way to spend ones time?

I started thinking about my own experiences.  I often take an opposing opinion when things upset me, or when the topic involves something that’s very mainstream and I don’t want to follow the crowd (one of my commandments).  I guess I often look for the negatives when I’m in a mood.  My husband knows this more than anyone, and depressed mansometimes I just get into an oppositional mood.  Imagining someone else do this made me realise how it must look to others, and I don’t meant to be like that, but I think I have taught myself to consider opposite ideas and think about things from different perspectives.  Maybe from a place of needing to problem solve, and maybe it contributes to problem solving to some degree, but it’s a kind of negativity I want to get rid of.

I want to be more involved in conversations, I want to listen, not only to wait long enough to offer my opinion, but to hear.  I sometimes find myself competing in conversations, usually when someone else has initiated it, but I think this is an area I need to work on as well.  I hate when I do it, but for some reason I can’t help it at the time.  I want to stop inflicting my opinions on other people, and acting like my ideas are better than theirs, sometimes ideas work for one person but not another.

It’s time to update my months objectives:

  • No need to compete
  • Engage in someone else’s conversation without making it my own
  • Keep negative and opposing opinions to myself unless directly asked (as this would be rude)
  • Remember people’s names (this is something I’ve been thinking about as I am useless at remembering names)
  • Don’t invalidate other’s ideas
  • Everyone is entitled to their own likes

Looking back over this I feel like it makes me sound obnoxious, but I guess I have developed a way of asserting myself that’s maladaptive.  I often find myself opposing peoples’ perspectives when I feel they think they’re better than me, and pointing out that I am better of as I am.

This month is about “letting go”, so I hope to let this maladaptive behaviour go with it.  I’m trying to lighten up, relax and not stress so much.  Improve my time management so that I don’t get stressed by needing to rush places.

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Keep It Simple and Light!

My happiness project continues, I have been trying to lighten up this month and part of that for me has been removing unnecessary stress from my sight.  My husband and I have made a few decisions to alleviate some financial stresses, and we are trying to be as organised as we can be around the house.  That was my first months’ resolutions, to get everything organised, and we work rather well together I must say.  We work in a tag team around the house, we try to pick up each others shortfalls, and we try to pat each other on the back for helping when the other was really struggling.

I have been trying really hard not to get up tight about things I don’t need to be up tight about, I am trying to let things go and just feel more relaxed in myself.  At work I am avoiding getting caught up in things that upset me, I am avoiding the use of negative comments, and at home I am trying not to be the nag…  The catch-phrase of the moment is “no NAGative comments”.

I find it so easy to look at someone else’s circumstances and find the silver lining, but why do I find it so hard to find my own?  I am already getting quite overwhelmed with the amount of uni work I feel I should have completed given that I am already half way through the second week of the semester, I swore I would not get behind.  After over time last night, sleeping through half of today and then working on getting my new ipad and macbook organised I feel like it’s already half way through the week.  I guess that’s the problem with nursing though.

I have been approaching things from a new tactic now.  I started a happiness journal, rightfully named since that’s what I am working through.  But, it is meant to be a place for me to use as a sounding board, to lay out my thoughts, gather them in some kind of order and manage them outside of my head instead of inside.  So far it’s working, which is really surprising me because I’m not a journal kind of person.  In my quest to find ways to manage my own stress and unnecessary worry I have tried a few different things.  I have tried yoga, I had an app called the “worry box”, this was a place to put worries where they are kind of filed away I guess.  The app asks you what they are, and what you can do about them, which really puts them into perspective.  I forgot all about it and I went and had a look at them a few nights ago and I was able to delete them all because they were all short term financial issues, I guess almost more like a to do list.  I have since downloaded 1 minute journal apps, and to do apps, I keep a diary of all the things we have coming up and I like to keep a relatively strict budget so I know where we’re at, my diary also includes what I need to do for uni.  But the journal idea is also working for the moment, for all the things that are too fluffy to go into the diary, that my husband is probably sick of hearing about but that helps me to sort it even if only psychologically.

All we need is to put things into perspective, avoid clutter, whether it’s physical or emotional and clear our minds.  It’s amazing how extra pressure something as simple as background noise can put on us.

I am learning some new coping strategies from this experience, I’m feeling a little more calm, and I’m learning to put things into perspective even if I don’t always do it initially.  There’s something to be said for keeping things simple.  I’ve even bought myself a new computer and ipad after 6 years because the old ones were very slow and sometimes the button on the ipad didn’t respond, it’s such a relief to have machines now that respond when I touch them.  The first time and without having to exert any extra effort and frustration.

They might say that patience is learnt on the job, but it’s not as easy as it sounds, or instant!  Maybe it’s more like we get the opportunity to be patient when it’s needed, it’s not something you can voluntarily practice unless the timing is right.  By the time we have an opportunity we might have already failed at it.

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